Universal Orlando has a wide variety of dining options, and you and your family can enjoy everything from world-class restaurants to take-out burgers in between rides. While you are planning your trip to Universal it’s all too easy to focus on the amazing thrill rides, character interactions, and hotels — but meals and dining are also a huge part of making your trip special. So budgeting for the cost of food at Universal is important!

This guide will take you through the cost of dining options in Universal for a variety of different budgets, so you can plan the meals that will add to the magic of your vacation. Generally speaking, I recommend budgeting at least $60 per person, per day for food costs. That’s enough to let you enjoy some great food stands, restaurants, and even have some snacks throughout your day. But as you’ll see, this amount may need to be increased or decreased depending on how many meals you want to eat and what type of dining you prefer.

Prices shown are accurate as of January 1, 2024 and are subject to change.

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Quick Service Restaurants vs. Table Service

Quick service restaurants offer speedy, less expensive options for a meal throughout Universal Orlando, while table service restaurants are more expensive sit-down experiences within the resort. So, what is the difference between quick service restaurants and table service restaurants?

Quick service restaurants at Universal are dining options where you order your food with a cashier and take your food with you to a table to enjoy (though at a few restaurants they might bring your food to the table at the start of your meal).

People queue at a fast food service counter

These restaurants are similar to many fast-food establishments like Burger King or McDonald’s, so there will not be anyone waiting on you while you eat and you’ll likely need to clean up your own tray before you go.

Table service restaurants are full-service options that offer a more traditional dining experience. At these restaurants, you will be seated with a menu and taken care of by a server.

Guests sit around a table of volcano nachos.

Image © Universal

Menus at table service restaurants will often be larger and more expensive, but they will also offer some fantastic dining options and experiences.

Inside Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure there are more quick service restaurants than table service because park-goers are generally looking for a fast meal in between rides. For table service restaurants, the biggest selection of locations is in Universal CityWalk, which I will cover in more detail later in the article.

Costs of Quick Service Restaurants at Universal Orlando

Exterior of Thunder Falls Terrace restaurant

The average quick service meal will cost between $12-$20. My kids and I love these quick service options because not only are there a great variety of dining options to choose from with good food, but they also allow us to get back to the action as soon as possible.

Due to the pandemic, food prices have increased throughout the parks due to inflation. I remember being able to grab a burger for around $10 in 2019 and now it costs at least $12 or $13. While it is unfortunate, it’s the case throughout the entire country so these quick service options are still well-priced, especially for being in a theme park!

Some of my favorite quick service options throughout Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure include:

  • Thunder Falls Terrace (Islands of Adventure) — Barbeque and Rotisserie Meats
  • Louie’s Italian Restaurant (Universal Studios) — Pizza and Pasta
  • Minion Cafe (Universal Studios) — Mixed Bowls and Minion-Themed Desserts
  • Mel’s Drive-In (Universal Studios) — Burgers and Chicken
  • TODAY Cafe (Universal Studios) — Sandwiches, Salads, and Baked Goods
  • Comic Strip Cafe (Islands of Adventure) — Ramen, Pizza, and Burgers
  • Three Broomsticks (Islands of Adventure) — UK-Inspired Food and Butterbeer

Exterior of Krusty Burger, with image of Krusty the Clown atop the building

These restaurants and cafes offer a variety of dining options that are all easy on your wallet, and they are spread throughout the parks so you will always be near a tasty, quick option for some food.

My kids’ favorite restaurant in the parks happens to be the Three Broomsticks because they are huge Harry Potter fans. While my wife and I also love Harry Potter, we are grateful that the restaurant also has great food that we can enjoy along with the experience of being in the tavern.

Guests eating inside of Three Broomsticks, with dark pub décor

Image © Universal

An example of what I might order if I went to the Three Broomsticks would be:

  • Main: Shepherd’s Pie with Garden Salad – $16.99
  • Drink: Butterbeer – $8.49
  • Dessert: Freshly Baked Apple Pie – $4.99

This would total $30.47 before tax. The experience alone makes going to this restaurant worth it, but it is also a good way to save a bit of money while enjoying more time in the parks! You could of course save a bit of money here by not getting the Butterbeer and the dessert, but I always make sure to get both because they are absolutely an important part of the dining experience in Hogsmeade!

One of the biggest reasons I like to go to these restaurants is because you have the ability to order ahead using the Universal Orlando Resort app. If the theme parks are busy then lines to order food can be long. The app allows you to order ahead and then pick up your meal when it’s ready! This feature makes quick service restaurants a great option for the middle of your day when you are looking for a quick bite before heading back to the rides. And at the same time, you can have a great interactive Universal experience if you go to a restaurant like the Three Broomsticks.

Costs of Table Service Restaurants at Universal Orlando

UOR Hard Rock Cafe

Hard Rock Cafe at Universal Orlando’s CityWalk

The average cost of an entrée at a table service restaurant in Universal Orlando is between $19 and $35. Keep in mind that this can quickly get more expensive if you go to one of the signature dining options. This means that including the prices of drinks and a few starters, a family of four can expect to spend at least $200 on a table service dinner.

For example, one of my wife’s favorite restaurants in Universal Studios is Finnegan’s Bar & Grill. The restaurant is an Irish Pub located in the park’s New York section and has a great selection of classic Irish and American dishes.

Interior of an Irish pub

Image © Universal

Here’s a sample meal restaurant you might order there:

  • Starter: House Made Misty Isle Potato & Leek Soup – $6.95
  • Main Dish: Portacarron Salmon – $23.95
  • Drink: Glass of White Wine – $13.00

This would then total $43.90 before tax and tip. There are certainly more expensive dishes available to order but this is a good example of a possible bill for one person!

While CityWalk is definitely the hub for table service restaurants, there are a few great options across both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios including:

  • Confisco Grille (Islands of Adventure) — Asian, Mediterranean, and Greek Foods
  • Mythos (Islands of Adventure) — Meats, Pastas, and Mixed Bowls
  • Lombard’s Seafood Grill (Universal Studios) — Chowder, Seafood, and Steaks
  • Finnegan’s Bar and Grill (Universal Studios) — Irish-American Pub Fare

These restaurants all bring their own perspective and charm to your meal. For example, Mythos will make you feel like you are enjoying your food on a Mediterranean island, while Finnegan’s will take you straight to the heart of New York in an Irish pub. Mythos is my family’s favorite restaurant to visit when we go to Universal Orlando and I will talk about it in more detail later in this article!

Free Help Planning Your Universal Orlando Dining (And Everything Else)

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Food Cost at Universal CityWalk Orlando Restaurants

Universal CityWalk is the place to be for dinner in Universal Orlando, but meals tend to cost at least $50 per person depending on what is ordered. CityWalk is located just outside of both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, so that means it is an easy walk from your last ride of the day when you start to get hungry for dinner.

Pro Tip: Due to high volumes of visitors it is best to reserve a spot at your favorite table-service restaurants in Universal Orlando because there can be long wait times if you arrive without a reservation!

Universal CityWalk includes a large variety of dining options that have influence from America, Italy, Mexico, and more. One place that my wife and I love to visit when we are at Universal is Vivo Italian Kitchen in CityWalk.

Sleek interior of a contemporary Italian restaurant

Image © Universal

An example of what a dinner for two might cost us would be:

  • Starters: Black Truffle Burrata / Classic Caprese – $16 / $14
  • Main Dishes: Parmigiano / Picatta – $29 / $25
  • Drinks: Two Glasses of Wine – $12 / $12
  • Dessert: Tiramisù / Stracciatella Semi Freddo – $10 / $9

This would definitely be a memorable meal, and it would cost us a total of $127 before tax and tip. Vivo is always a bit of a special occasion when we go, because we tend to look for more value meals throughout the park. But, whenever we are looking for something special, restaurants like Vivo are worth what you pay!

Prices of Drinks Throughout Universal Orlando

The prices of drinks in Universal tend to be fairly expensive as the resort has a captive audience. Soft drinks and Butterbeer make up a significant chunk of meal prices at Universal, so be sure to factor in those expenses when calculating your food costs.

Let’s dive into the prices of both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks throughout the resort and its restaurants.

Non-Alcoholic Drinks

I certainly need breaks in between rides, and one of the ways I like to take a breather is to pop into a quick service restaurant and grab a drink. I last visited the resort in late 2023 so I have some recent experience when it comes to buying these beverages, and here are a few prices of the drinks you might want to grab when you are in the parks:

  • Self-serve soda – $4.75
  • Bottle of Water – $5.00
  • Powerade – $5.50

These prices can vary a dollar in either direction depending on where you purchase your drink, but generally drinks tend to be pretty expensive.

Pro-Tip: If you are just looking for water and don’t want to purchase a bottle, there are plenty of options to get free tap water throughout the parks, and all the restaurants offer free water with your meal.

Alcoholic Drinks

Like the non-alcoholic drinks, there is a markup for alcoholic drinks throughout the parks. Occasionally when I need a break, I’ll let my kids go off and enjoy a ride with mom while I grab a quick beer. There are plenty of cool restaurants and stands where you can enjoy a drink, but you should certainly be prepared to pay for the experience. Here are a few examples of some drink prices you might get throughout the parks):

  • Bottle of beer – $10.50
  • Wine – $12
  • Cocktails – $14.50

These prices can vary a bit depending on where you get your drink throughout the park and based on the particular item you purchase. It can continue to get more expensive if you are having a drink in a nice restaurant.

How Much is Butterbeer at Universal Orlando?

A plastic cup of Butterbeer

Butterbeer is a sweet, non-alcoholic concoction with a taste that Universal describes as “reminiscent of shortbread and butterscotch.” You can find it in many forms around the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, from refreshing drinks to tempting desserts!

Butterbeer Drinks

You can enjoy a Butterbeer drink in several forms at Universal: cold (liquid like a soft drink), frozen (ice crystals like a slushie), and hot (steaming like coffee). All versions are topped with a tasty foam “head” (see allergy notes below).

  • Cold Butterbeer: $8.49
  • Frozen Butterbeer: $8.49
  • Hot Butterbeer: $8.49

Butterbeer is typically served in a disposable cup, but you can spend a bit more for a heavy-duty souvenir mug. In late 2023, they even offered a special stainless steel holiday souvenir cup that cost nearly $37.99!

Cold and Frozen Butterbeer is generally allergy-friendly to those with gluten, soy, egg, wheat, and nut allergies — the standard topping does contain dairy, but a non-dairy version is also offered. Hot Butterbeer is not suitable for those with dairy allergies or who follow a vegan diet.

Butterbeer Desserts

In addition to drinks, Butterbeer is also offered in dessert form:

  • Butterbeer Ice Cream in a cup or waffle cone: $5.99 – $6.49 depending on type and location
  • Butterbeer Ice Cream in a souvenir glass: $8.49
  • Butterbeer Fudge: Varies
  • Butterbeer Potted Cream: $6.49

Cost of Character Meals at Universal Orlando

Character meals at Universal Orlando cost an average of about $45-$55 for adults and $23-$33 for kids. At Universal, a character experience is when you get to have a meal at a restaurant as normal, but at the same time, some of your favorite characters will be walking around the restaurant interacting with guests as you eat. For example, there is a Marvel Character Dinner located in Cafe 4 in Islands of Adventure.

My kids love these interactive dining experiences at Universal Orlando. I’ll admit that for me, I get more fun watching the smiles on their faces rather than interacting with the characters myself, but it is a great way for a family to enjoy a meal and laugh at the same time. Last time we visited we tried the Marvel Character Dinner, so I will break down the experience and prices of what we got for you below.

In total, we paid about $175 for this meal as a family of four. The price for adults (10+) is $52.99 plus tax, and for kids younger than 10 they cost $29.99 plus tax. Don’t forget to factor in tips, too. While we were eating characters like Wolverine, Captain America, or Spider-Man came up and asked for high fives or photos. Our kids were smiling and laughing and it made the meal so special. The menu has a variety of salads, pizzas, chicken dishes, pasta, and great desserts to choose from. The dining options are certainly not the same as if you were at a signature restaurant, but they still taste great and have options for kids of all ages.

If you are looking for something special for breakfast or dinner I would absolutely recommend one of these meals, but in my experience, these events are best enjoyed by young kids!

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How much does Signature Dining Cost at Universal Orlando?

Signature dining in Universal refers to some of the top restaurants in the resort. For these restaurants, along with the amazing food, you are likely to receive a bill for upwards of $200 for a family of four. But, these restaurants promise the best dining experiences and best food throughout the resort. A few of these restaurants include:

  • Mama Della’s Ristorante (Portofino Bay Hotel) — Authentic Italian Cuisine
  • The Palm Restaurant (Hard Rock Hotel) — Steak and Lobster
  • Mythos (Islands of Adventure) — Meats, Pastas, and Mixed Bowls
  • Bice Ristorante (Portofino Bay Hotel) — Northern Italian Food

My family and I have tried most of these locations throughout the past few years and they always deliver a top-tier dining experience. One of our favorite choices is Mythos, which is probably one of the less-expensive options from the list above.

Food Cost at Universal Orlando: grilled spiced lamb at Mythos

Grilled Spiced Lamb at Mythos | Image © Universal

Last time we went to Mythos we ordered:

  • Starters: Grilled Lamb Meatballs – $15, Lemon Hummus $12, and Mediterranean Grilled Octopus – $18
  • Main Dishes: Beef Loin Medallions – $30, Spinach and Garlic Ravioli – $24, Sea Scallop and Barley Risotto – $37, and Pad Thai – $28
  • Drinks: Coke – $4.75, Lemonade $4.75, Glass of White Wine – $13, Glass of Red Wine – $15
  • Desserts: Two Chocolate-Hazelnut Crème Brûlées – $10 each, Graham Cracker Pudding – $10

This meal was so memorable and we loved our experience at the restaurant. The total cost of the dinner was $231.50 before tax and tip. This will generally be what you should expect to pay for a family of four at this restaurant – and it is definitely worth it. Mythos is considered to be one of the best, if not the best, theme park restaurants in the world, and the experience of feeling like you are dining in a cave on the Mediterranean is a once in a lifetime moment.

Is there still a Universal Orlando Dining Plan?

Universal Orlando appears to have gotten rid of its dining plans, at least for now. These plans disappeared in the wake of the pandemic and still haven’t returned as of the start of 2024. There is no update from Universal on whether or not the dining plan will return, but there are two signs that there could be glimmers of hope for an eventual return:

  • Universal deleted the page about dining plans from its website, but each individual restaurant page still indicates which dining plans are accepted.
  • Disney and Universal frequently follow each other’s leads on things like ticket prices and operations, and Disney recently began selling Dining Plans again (with a 2024 effective date).

Based on these two clues, we feel that it’s at least possible Universal could start offering dining plans again at some point in the future. You can ask your travel agent to keep you in the loop on any updates.

Is Food at Universal More Expensive than at Disney?

While a Universal vacation tends to be slightly less than a Disney vacation, food is going to cost you about the same at either resort. A family of four at Disney can expect to spend between $200-$300 a day on dining, depending on what restaurants they go to. The same goes for Universal. It is important to note that these prices can change dramatically depending on whether your family orders pizza for dinner or goes to a signature restaurant, but as long as you plan ahead and check the menu you will be able to plan the dining experiences that work best for you!

How Should I Pay For Food at Universal?

Although the dining plan no longer is active at Universal, there are still plenty of easy ways to pay for your food throughout the resort. At Universal, you can use all regular forms of payment like credit cards, debit cards, and cash. On top of this, you can also pay for food using mobile ordering on the Universal Orlando Mobile App.

The Universal Orlando Mobile app isn’t a separate app for dining: it’s the main app for Universal Orlando. Once you log in, you can add a credit or debit card to your account as a payment method, and then go over to the Mobile Food & Drink Ordering section. There, you can order ahead at quick service restaurants instead of waiting in line, and you can pay using the app as well.

A screenshot of the Universal Orlando mobile app, showing a rotisserie chicken plate with mobile ordering options

I prefer to just use my credit card while paying for food throughout the parks, mostly because of the points I get from spending, but it is also more secure than a debit card and more convenient than cash. But there are plenty of good options, so just choose whichever one works best for you!

Final Thoughts on Food Costs at Universal Orlando

Budgeting for your food cost at Universal Orlando is one of the most important parts of planning your trip. Because you and your family will have a few meals a day, dining will take up a significant amount of time on your vacation. These restaurants not only offer great food but also fantastic experiences. Your food budget can certainly go up or down if you are planning to go to some of Universal’s nicest restaurants or if you are simply planning on ordering a large pizza — but I hope I’ve helped give you an idea of what to expect.

Once you get the budgeting out of the way you can focus on enjoying these great experiences and everything else that Universal has to offer!

How to Book

The easiest way to book your Universal Orlando Resort dining, hotel, theme park tickets, and ground transportation is to contact The Vacationeer. This Universal Preferred Travel Agency offers completely free help with vacation planning at Universal, Disney, and other Orlando-area attractions.

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